Vidua, quae soluta est vinculo maritali, nihil necesse habet nisi perseverare. at scandalizat quempiam vestis fuscior: scandalizet Iohannes, quo inter natos mulierum maior nullus fuit, qui angelus dictus ipsum quoque dominum baptizavit, qui camelorum vestitus tegumine zona pellicia cingebatur. cibi displicent viliores; nihil vilius est locustis. illae Christianos oculos potius scandalizent, quae purpurisso et quibusdam fucis ora oculosque depingunt, quarum facies gypseae et nimio candore deformes idola mentiuntur, quibus si forte improvidens lacrimarum stilla eruperit, sulco defluit, quas nec numerus annorum potest docere, quod vetulae sunt, quae capillis alienis verticem instruunt et praeteritam iuventutem in rugis anilibus poliunt, quae denique ante nepotum gregem trementes virgunculae componuntur.
(Jerome, Ep. 38.3)
A widow who is freed from the marital bond has but one duty laid upon her, and that is to continue as a widow. It may be that some people are offended by her sombre garb: they would be offended also by John the Baptist, and yet among those born of women there has not been a greater than he. He was called God’s messenger and baptized the Lord Himself, but he was clothed in camel’s-hair raiment and girded with a girdle of skins. It may be that some are displeased by a widow’s simple food: nothing can be more simple than locusts. Those women rather should offend a Christian’s eyes, who paint their cheeks with rouge and their eyes with belladonna; whose faces are covered with powder and so disfigured by excessive whiteness that they look like idols; who find a wet furrow on their skin if perchance a careless tear escape them; whom no amount of years can convince that they are old; who heap their heads with borrowed tresses; who polish up past youthfulness in spite of the wrinkles of age; who, in fine, behave like trembling schoolgirls before a company of their own grandsons. (tr. Frederick Adam Wright)